Though they were trying to keep their voices down, I heard Trix and Trace arguing and slowed my steps to approach the door stealthily. There were men’s voices as well, not Bash.
“There may not be a show tomorrow. It’s got to be tonight.” That was Trace. I stopped to listen.
“And blow our load?” Trix. “No. Tonight is the dress rehearsal. Tonight we play the way…the way it should be tomorrow. We play and we blow them away, we don’t rely on sensationalism, a gimmick…”
“Are you having second thoughts?” This male voice was vaguely familiar, but electronic – through speakers or a phone. When Trix didn’t answer immediately, Trace growled her high pitched frustration.”What is WITH you? What so captivates you about a curious breeder that it knocks you off course every time?”
“You’ve got it wrong. This isn’t new, I never liked it, not before, not now. I understand it, but I don’t like it.”
“You want to live in an ideal world, Trix. It’s not realistic.” That sounded like Static. What was he doing in high-level strategy talks?
“The question is, are we still on plan, or are you changing the game?” The voice on the phone again – Trix and Trace’s own Charlie.
“I don’t know.” Trix sounded tired.
“Trix, you know I’m with you,” Trace said, but her tone implied otherwise. “I trust your instincts. As long as it’s your instincts we’re talking about. Is it?”
Trix talked fast, as though to get the words out before being interrupted. “Maybe we don’t need to do it at all. Maybe there’s enough, the buzz around tonight, the controversy, the airtime.”
“Why take that chance?” asked Trace.
“You know why.” Trix’s voice held incredulity, as though the question itself was beneath considering.
“And you know it has to be tonight.” Static couldn’t keep his nose out, and it was enough to finish the conversation for Trix.
“And if tomorrow doesn’t happen?” the man on the phone wanted to know.
“Then it was never meant to happen. That’s it, and I’m sticking with it. No decision until tomorrow. Tonight I get my show. Now the question is for you. Do you trust me?”
Only Trace answered, at least that I could hear. “Not at all. But I’m with you.”
Never in my life had I wanted to know anything as much as I wanted to know what they were talking about. Their hushed urgency told me that asking outright was probably not my best option. I felt trapped in the hallway. I didn’t want to walk in now, and have them suspicious. I couldn’t turn and escape without making noise. What if one of them came to the door, or someone showed up and caught me standing there eavesdropping while I tried to figure out what to do? Forward seemed the only viable option. I purposely regulated the volume of my steps so they would hear me coming and assume I’d just arrived in the hallway.
“Who’s there?” called Trix.
“It’s Christine.” I stood in the doorframe.
“And where have you been?” I noticed that whoever had been on the computer or phone was no longer evident. When I didn’t answer right away, she glanced up. “Whatever, never mind. Get in here, Mouse. I need you to call Tyler Brendshaw and get him to come tonight.” I had expected a possible grilling about my time in the hallway, but not this. I didn’t like Static’s hungry expression as he watched our exchange.
“Trix, I just blew him off. I told him I’m not interested.”
“This might be the only show we do. I need Tyler Brendshaw here. Call him and tell him to come.”
I felt torn. As always, a big part of me wanted to give her what she was asking for. But there was something about Tyler Brendshaw that I needed to steer clear of right then, and to undo what I’d just done seemed fickle at best. What she was asking for was manipulation.
“I’m just not comfortable…”
“Mouse. I’m not kidding around here. ”
“Get Trace to call him.”
Trace spoke up. “He said he had other plans.”
I raised my eyebrow.
“I thought he’d be blinded? If she can’t get him here, you think I can?”
Trix narrowed her eyes at me.
“Yes, I do think so. I’m not asking you lightly. Call him.”
“If he has other plans, he has other plans.”
Trix leaned down so that our faces were only inches apart.
“Mouse, there are only three people in the world who need to see this show live, this week. Tyler Brendshaw is number two. I rescued you when you asked, and now you’re going to suck it up for the team and make this call. Will you do that? Now?”
She had played her trump card – how could I say no? I dialled.
“Uh, yeah. Hi.”
“This is a surprise.”
“No, a nice surprise. What’s up?”
“I…uh…I was wondering if you want to come to our dress rehearsal and after party tonight?”
He was quiet.
“I have some pretty important plans tonight,” he said carefully, hesitantly. He was considering it, but he was trying to figure out my angle.
Trix whispered, “Tell him it would mean a lot to you!”
“NO WAY!” I mouthed.
“Say it!” she hissed.
“Um, it would…mean a lot to me, if you come?”
A beat passed.
“Trix is right there, isn’t she?”
He laughed out loud.
“Well that makes more sense. Her idea. And yet, it’s YOU on this phone, Christine. For you, I will change my plans. Only for you.”
“Wait, I didn’t mean to…”
“I think you did. Too late to take it back now, Mighty Mouse. I’ll see you tonight.”
He hung up. I looked at the phone and could almost see him gloating with a tenderness I didn’t know how to allow. I should not have made that call.
“Is he coming?”
“Way to go, Mouse!”
I didn’t look up at her. I felt ashamed, and I wanted to blame her for my shame while knowing full well where its weight belonged. I moved for the door.
“I need to spend some time by myself.”
No one followed or called after me.